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He Built His Own Tracked Tractor
Jim Brown wanted a tracked tractor for work in the woods but he couldn't justify the cost of a small dozer. He also looked at a tracked skid steer loader but it caused too much ground damage because the tracks were too small.
  "I saw an article in FARM SHOW about a farmer who used the tread off a pair of tractor tires to make tracks. That seemed like a great way to go so I decided to try it," says Brown.
  He obtained a Case 446 garden tractor with a blown engine and went to work on it. He took off the front axle, replacing it with the rear end off a Dodge Caravan, which he narrowed up to fit the frame. The axle bolts solidly in place. He put 15-in. car tires on front and left the 23-in. tractor tires on back.
  He installed a new 20 hp. Twin Vanguard engine, reworking the mounting blocks and modifying the hood. He also made a 3-in. exhaust pipe. The original transmission remained in place.
  To make the tracks, Brown cut the sidewalls off a pair of 16.9 by 28 bias-ply tractor tires. He fitted the underside of the tread with U-shaped metal guides that attach with two bolts apiece and ride over the top of the tractor tires. There are 18 guides per track. The sides of each guide come straight down on either side of the tires.
  Brown says he can remove the tracks in about a half hour by pulling the wheels off with the tracks. To reinstall, he puts a small jack between the wheels to hold them in place for mounting, while stretching the belt. He also deflates the tires as much as necessary.
  The tractor was fitted with an auto master brake cylinder which is controlled by two steering levers. One brakes the wheels on one side of the tractor and one brakes the other side. When Brown started using the tractor, he found that the rear garden tractor brakes were not strong enough to turn the tractor on dry ground. So he bought 10-in. dia. motorcycle disk brakes that had the same bolt pattern as the rear wheels. Once he installed those, the tractor worked perfectly, practically turning in its tracks. "It leaves a 2-ft. circle at the center when you turn 360?," he notes.
  Brown uses the home-built tracked tractor for maple sugaring and also for cutting firewood. "We have to go through some wet areas and this tractor walks right through. We also used it in 1 to 2-ft. deep snow with no problem this year. It does very little damage to the ground and is very maneuverable," he says. "The trickiest part in building it was figuring out the brakes. Otherwise, it was pretty straight forward. We bought very few new parts."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Brown, 66 West River Rd., Lincoln, Vt. 05443 (ph 802 453-4563; E-mail: jjmbrownvt@hotmail.com).

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2002 - Volume #26, Issue #3